Since Phil and I got married abroad in Tuscany, we planned for a delayed honeymoon, somewhere warm, tropical and fabulous long after the wedding planning was over. While we very much enjoyed our mini-moon to Venice immediately following our wedding, we arguably had an even better time 6 months later when we went to Hawaii.
Both of us were Hawaii-virgins, looking to experience at least two islands. Since we are Marriott Vacation Club owners, we had the ability to book two of their properties—the Marriott Kauai Beach Club and the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club in Oahu.
We very much wanted to do this honeymoon thing right, so we dedicated a full 10 days for our trip and opted for direct roundtrip flights from Newark to Honolulu to minimize plane hopping the best we could.
I curated our itinerary in a way that maximized the things we wanted to do most that were relaxing: spa-ing, sunbathing, eating, sightseeing and more relaxing.
To my husband’s utter glee, I didn’t over schedule us with dinner reservations or things to do (occupational hazard, I guess). I had decided I wanted to do only a few big things: a food tour, a traditional Hawaiian luau and a boat tour of the Na Pali Coast. We planned to wing everything else.
Here are a few killer tips if you plan to visit Kauai and Oahu for your honeymoon, or any vacation for that matter:
Tasting Kauai Food Tour: If you’re a sustainable eater or traveler and care about what food you put into your body, then this is right up your alley. This incredible, intimate food tour brings you to local restaurants, juice bars, proprietors and even food trucks and introduces you to the men and women who are producing high-quality food in Kauai and who care about their local communities. A few of my local favorites was Kauai Farmacy and Kauai Juice Company.
Captain Andy’s Sunset Dinner Cruise: If you’re in Kauai you have to see the Na Pali Coast, somehow, someway (either helicopter or boat). We chose to do a sunset dinner cruise with Captain Andy’s that came highly recommended by friends of ours. The $100 evening sale included an in-depth tour of the island with amazing history and plenty of photo opportunities, as well as a three-course meal and an open bar. It might have been one of our biggest wins of the trip on multiple accounts.
Smith Family Luau: I was getting Lei’d at some point on our Hawaiian honeymoon—and damn right we did at the Smith Family Luau in Kauai. While some people might say this was a “touristy” thing to do—it was worth it for a number of reasons. Firstly, we got lei’d with some lovely beads upon entrance, then taken on a short tour of their beautiful property where we were able to take tons of photos (most of which you can find on Instragram!). Then we sat down to a surprisingly delicious pig roast buffet that had many different types of foods and even labeled them for any type of food allergy that might exist. There was also the unlimited open bar, juice bar and Mai Tai station. While eating, we listened to the family band croon away and then were treated to the main event: a Hawaiian stage show. My favorite moment of the evening? The man throwing around huge sticks of fire.
Shaka Guide’s Waimea Canyon Tour: A friend told me to download Shaka Guide, an app that offered driving tours and directions of multiple Hawaiian Islands. You have the ability to purchase different driving tours and we chose the day trip to Waimea Canyon in Kauai. This was one of the things we wanted to see but didn’t feel like a 12-hour guided hike or anything else too extreme. We wanted to cruise, take photos, walk around and take in the scenery. This app was invaluable and even suggested cute places to stop along the way like the Kauai Coffee Company.
Dinner at Jo2: The best overall meal we had in Kauai was at JO2. Don’t let the location in a strip mall fool you---this menu that showcases mostly fish and vegetable dishes will knock your socks off. Chef and owner Jean-Marie Josselin believes in clean, natural food with bold flavors and that’s exactly what we got. We ordered a variety of their gluten-free dishes and shared them between us. Everything we ate was phenomenal, but a standout dish was their eggplant in coconut milk that I would eat every day if I could.
Happy Hour at Four Seasons Oahu: We only spent three lovely days in Oahu. Our goal was to relax even more than we already had before heading back home and back to work. Our hotel was walking distance from the Four Seasons Oahu and when I saw it was home to a Michael Mina restaurant, I was in. Mina’s Fish House has one of the better happy hour menus I’ve ever seen. Period. It’s worth throwing on a casual beach dress and making it to the open-air restaurant at around 4pm to take full advantage of their menu that had great deals on oysters, poke, crab dip and more.
Yoga or Stretching Class on the Beach: If you’re a yoga devotee or have never practiced, I urge you to take a beginner yoga class or even a stretching/meditation class on the beach one morning before you begin your day. There’s nothing like connecting mind, body and spirit simultaneously while soaking in fresh Hawaiian rays and breathing in the smell of the sea. Our Marriott Vacation Club offered a host of complimentary workout classes, but you can also find many local studios that fit the bill as well.
Spa by the Sea Massages: The sign of a true vacation is when you’ve received multiple massages. For me, I had not one, but two treatments at the Spa by the Sea at our Marriott Vacation Club. The first day we arrived, there was an open slot for a 25-minute quickie massage, so I jumped on it. I loved it so much, I booked myself and my husband for the 50-minute version for the following day. Did I mention we also got a couples massage when we first arrived in Kauai? We left Hawaii more relaxed then when we came.
Did you honeymoon in Hawaii? If so, share with us your stories and comments below.